February 2019
First Five Nebraska Testifies on Bills
Affecting Early Childhood

The first session of the 106th Nebraska Legislature is in its eighth week. At this point in the 90-day first session, the full legislative body meets for floor debate in the mornings and continues with committee hearings in the afternoons.

Senators introduced 739 bills this session, each of which was referred to a committee to receive a public hearing.

Committees hearing bills pertinent to early childhood include:

  • Health and Human Services, Senator Sara Howard, Chair
  • Education, Senator Mike Groene, Chair
  • Appropriations, Senator John Stinner, Chair
  • Urban Affairs, Senator Justin Wayne, Chair
  • Revenue, Senator Lou Ann Linehan, Chair
  • Business and Labor, Senator Matt Hansen, Chair

Committee hearings will conclude in March and full-day floor debate is set to begin April 2.

First Five Nebraska has testified on several early childhood bills to date

LB590 offers cost efficiencies for state government and child care providers . In 2017, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services staff made more than 6,000 visits to child care providers, the majority of which involved manually checking paper copies of training credentials to ensure child care staff met licensure requirements. Integrating the online Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System (NECPRS) into this process offers a more efficient alternative for capturing this information. We worked with Senator Tom Briese to craft this bill, and appreciate his leadership in streamlining a burdensome system. With amendments, LB590 advanced out of the Health and Human Services Committee and is on General File, the first round of floor debate.

LB266 widens access to tax credits for early childhood professionals . The School Readiness Tax Credit Act of 2016 created two types of credits to incentivize child care professionals to grow the quality of their programs and professional credentials. After passage, it became clear that limitations in the statutory language prevented self-employed child care providers and programs classified as S-Corporations from receiving the credits. This bill clarifies the language to remove these barriers. Thank you to Senator Brett Lindstrom for working with us on this bill to allow more early child care professionals to take advantage of the tax credit. LB266 is currently in the Revenue Committee.

LB160 redefines terms under the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act to include early childhood infrastructure development and early childhood care and education programs for certain cities and villages . This bill would create another funding pathway for developing early childhood infrastructure by allowing communities to direct some of their local Option Municipal Development Funds (LB480) to begin or expand early child care and learning programs. The bill is on Select File, the second round of floor debate.

LB459 changes criminal background checks under the Child Care Licensing Act . LB459 requires child care operators and their staff to participate in a criminal history record check as part of the child care licensing process. It also requires a record check at least once during a five-year period and submission of fingerprints to the state patrol. Passing this bill would move Nebraska toward compliance with federal regulations; failure to do so could cost our state a 5% penalty. The bill is in the Health and Human Services Committee.

LB341 changes provisions relating to a determination of ongoing eligibility for a child care subsidy (graduated phaseout compliance). LB341 implements a graduated phaseout for child care assistance, removing the 24-month maximum for transitional care assistance, and changes the income level at which parents lose transitional child care assistance within an eligibility year. LB341 is currently in the Health and Human Services Committee.

LB66 provides for an early childhood element in a comprehensive plan developed by a city. LB66 would require cities to assess the number of quality licensed early childhood education programs and evaluate the availability and utilization of licensed child care providers as part of their comprehensive plans. Strengthening our early childhood infrastructure in communities can make it possible for more parents to fully participate in the workforce. LB66 advanced out of the Urban Affairs Committee, but failed on General File.

 Check our Nebraska Legislation page to track
93 bills affecting early childhood. A link to an updated, printable report is posted daily during the session.

FFN Launches Early Childhood Policy
Leadership Academy

Civic leaders representing 21 Nebraska communities came together in Grand Island on January 16 for the inaugural meeting of our Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy The Academy’s goal is to help participants engage policymakers and key stakeholders in conversations about strengthening Nebraska’s local and statewide early childhood infrastructure.

“Communities across Nebraska are rapidly realizing the need for local, high- quality early childhood services,” said Tammy Ward, Director of the Academy. “Affordable, accessible early care and learning is central to our state’s economic development and a community’s local infrastructure. The Academy will help civic leaders better inform the decision-making process in their communities and state.”

Senators, Community Leaders Gather to Discuss
Link Between Quality Early Care and Economic Vitality

What makes a community a desirable place to live, work and raise a family? Jeff Yost, President of the   Nebraska Community Foundation , said an important part of the answer focuses on local early care and learning opportunities. Yost spoke at our event, "A Greater Nebraska," which drew legislators and community leaders from locations throughout the state where early childhood is a recognized strategy for local growth and economic development.

Quick Links

LincolnLittles  is a new initiative inspired by  Prosper Lincoln  to help more low-income children access high-quality early care and learning programs in the capital city. A Day of Giving on Feb. 12, Abe Lincoln's birthday, raised more than $625,000 for the program.

Stick Creek Kids  in Wood River received a $385,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for their capital campaign underway to raise funds for construction of a child development center that will serve kids ages 6 weeks to 12 years. 
Our vision is that all Nebraska children begin kindergarten
with the experience they need to become successful students
and productive citizens.